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Guest's celebratory fire brings down plane

October 14, 2003 www.smh.com.au

A small plane crashed near a wedding party in central Serbia, and local media said it was apparently brought down by celebratory rounds fired by wedding guests.

The single-engine Utva-75 plane crashed into a high-voltage powerline in the village of Ratina, some 160 km west of Belgrade, the FoNet news agency reported today. It said the pilot and passenger were seriously injured.

Police confirmed the plane crash and said two people were hurt but refused to discuss what brought the plane down and other details.

"Shortly before the crash I saw the plane flying at a very low altitude over a wedding party when guests started firing their handguns and other weapons," eyewitness Zoran Vukadinovic told FoNet, a private news agency. The left wing of the aircraft subsequently caught fire, and the plane crashed, he said.

Shootings and fatalities are frequent at Serbian weddings because of the centuries-long tradition of blasting away with firearms in celebration.

Attempts to trace Vukadinovic were unsuccessful, with FoNet refusing to divulge his phone number.


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